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Top 10 ways to lose a Great Employee November 13, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Job Opportunities.

I recently read an article on this subject and it compelled me to add my own twists. If you’re a good manager or leader then you probably already know most of this, but it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of them from time to time. Here are my top 10 ten ways to lose great employees;

1. Be dishonest.

Integrity matters. Most good employees and all great ones have integrity. So, lying to them, to their coworkers, to customers or vendors is sure to turn them off. Over-billing a customer, not paying a vendor, having different rules for different people, not following thru on your agreements, and even just “little white lies” are all sure to catch the private ire of those employees who can best help you and your organization succeed. Don’t think they don’t notice; they DO.

2. Micromanage.

Sadly, we have all experienced way too much of it. Micromanagement screams of trust and security issues. And exactly why would your top performers want to work for someone with trust and security issues?

It’s not just classical micromanagement either. We have all seen truly exceptional people who excelled in their role end up with their jobs “dumbed-down” to cater to the lowest common denominator, and to the point they were no longer challenged or motivated. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before they were looking for an opportunity somewhere else.

3. Under-pay them & take them for granted.

Yes, taking advantage of your situation or position with an emplouee will usually get a good person out of your organization as fast as they can possibly find an opportunity elsewhere. I’ve seen organizations under-pay very good people. One executive even said to me, in private, “Well, just what are they going to, do? Leave?  They have no place to go. The (job) market is poor.” This was his way of rationalizing those so many years of reduced bonuses for a dedicated staff of employees who really had earned them – and who were contractually entitled. It wasn’t long before people actually did have someplace else to go, and go they did. As a manager stay tuned to what industry standards are for your employees positions and compensate them fairly if you want to keep them.

4. Don’t take time to communicate (listen to their concerns).

Good people almost always actually want what is best for the organization. They may have differing opinions on what that is, but they can be passionate, even fiery about it. If you’re dismissive of their concerns, when raised, you’re headed down the road to losing top performing people. Above all, communicate with them. Do not leave them in the dark about company policy or directive changes. These sort of issues directly affect your top performers and yes, they take it personal.

5. Don’t say “Thank you.”

It’s a small thing, but it really does make a difference. Even small gestures of appreciation, complements on good work, acknowledging that someone stayed late / came in early / went the extra mile help keep talented people motivated and engaged. A small gift card, permission to leave early for the day or work from home the day before a holiday (if work is getting completed), a kind word, an email, all of these things cost very little but go a long way. People care if someone notices when they are doing a good job.

6. Be cold and uncaring (to them and to their coworkers).

People are human. Why do we seem to forget this so often? They have personal struggles, ambitions, families, crises, etc. One of my favorite bosses from the past was a gentleman who knew my wife’s name, my son’s name, my dog’s name, and more. I met both of his kids and I had met his wife before started working for him. He didn’t go beyond appropriate boundaries, but I really knew he cared about me as an employee and as a person. He was personable and when I needed a friend, a true mentor, someone I could go to with a problem, a “dad” type figure. I knew I could talk to him and he’d help me out however he could. He got a lot of loyalty from me in return. I should also point out that talented people watch how you treat other people, not just themselves, and they take note of it.

7. Forget the values that made your organization a success.

I’ve been part of organizations that truly lived their core values (and even years later can recite them by heart, because they were so prominent). We all knew what they were.We all agreed they were important, or at least accepted them as such. The leadership talked about them, and everything we did as a company HAD to align to them. I left an organization once after it forgot its values and stopped talking about them because it wasn’t long before the entity had lost its way. I have also been in companies that barely even mention their values – and really, what that says is, “Our core value is to make more money for our owners, whatever it takes.”

Not exactly compelling, but that’s what is being conveyed.If that’s what you’re really all about, you may as well admit it, there is nothing wrong with making money. When I build a team, I am very explicit about my expectations.

8. Ignore their personal and professional development.

Note that there are two dimensions to this – professional development (technical skills, industry knowledge, expertise, professional certifications, formal training, etc.) and personal development. Leaders only follow stronger leaders, so if you want to keep current or future leaders, be sure you are mentoring them. Let them learn from your own life experience; telling good stories from your experience can be a great way to do this. Help them become better professionals – and better people. They will appreciate this beyond measure. Additionally, don’t delude yourself into thinking that their career growth is their problem. It is your problem so make a point of investing in it and top notch people will likely repay you for this with good work.

9. Don’t be selective who you hire in the first place.

We all know that hiring people who really fit and are highly talented is tough. We know that the repercussions of a bad hire are awful for everyone. Make sure people really will fit into your organization. I have found that the recruiting process is often commensurate with the organization and role. The better (and more prestigious) the entity and higher profile the role, the tougher the recruiting process often seems – and it should be. Let’s face it, a half hour “get to know you”, or even an hour isn’t really enough to get to know a prospective employee well enough to make a truly informed decision. Talented people often don’t mind a tough (within reason) selection process because they are usually competitive people who thrive on challenge. Invest the time needed to really explore what makes a person tick before you hire them. remember, talented people want to be around other talented people.

10. Set the bar low.

Great people will get discouraged and either leave or adapt to mediocrity if that is what they perceive is deemed acceptable. I’ve seen mediocrity accepted, rewarded, applauded, and even promoted!  The impact of this on team morale (and on the highest performing team members) was palpable. Set the bar high and then become a cheerleader – even if people don’t make it over the high bar, point out how high the bar was set and how high people did get, and celebrate the success they did have at the right level. They may just make it over that high bar the next time.

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